After Kobe and the Lakers seemingly made a statement last weekend with a huge win against the Miami Heat, the Lakers, this week, seem to have taken a few steps back.
Previous winners of 8 out of their last 10 games before their recent road stint, the Lakers seemed to be finally putting themselves back into the discussion as contenders for yet another title. But just as quickly as this team has risen as a legitimate threat in the last couple weeks, the Lakers, within a matter of days, have fallen uncontrollably back down to reality.
Suffering tough road losses this week to both the Washington Wizards (9-29) and the Detroit Pistons (13-26), the Lakers embarrassingly lost games that shouldn’t have even been close.
While this Laker team has been dismal all year on the road (6-14) and even at times hard to watch, they do have enough talent to contend for a championship. But in order for them to even put themselves into that position, the Lakers have to be consistent.
In the two losses to Detroit and Washington, Kobe shot a combined 17 for 57. Mask or no mask, that is horrendous shooting from the Black Mamba.
According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, head coach Mike Brown also took displeasure to Kobe’s shot selection following the lost to the Wizards.
“He took some difficult shots that allowed those guys to come up with long rebounds and push the ball down the floor and get some easy buckets,” Brown said. “He was one of those guys that I did not think took great shots in the second half.”
With two 7-footers roaming the paint in Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, Kobe should no longer have to hoist that many shots. As the Lakers have an obvious height advantage against most teams, using the bigs should be the main weapon in their arsenal. The Lakers, along with Kobe, need to make a collective effort of attacking the paint, not just in the beginning of games, but throughout the entire game.
Another asset that the Lakers need on a nightly basis is Metta World Peace. World Peace is currently having his worse season statistically in his 12-year career. Averaging a career low 5.5 ppg and shooting just 35 percent from the field, World Peace is struggling to say the least. While World Peace does occasionally show signs of life every now and then (i.e. Miami and Sacramento), on most nights he seems more like a liability than an advantage to the team. World Peace needs to find his game on both ends of the court for his team. Basically, he needs to be Ron Artest.
In addition to these predicaments, another glaring issue that seems to consistently be a problem has been the lack of production from the bench. Aside from a couple bright spots off the bench this season in Matt “Always Hustling” Barnes and Andrew “Mini Mamba” Goudelock, the Lakers second unit, like Metta World Peace, doesn’t always deliver. Without Lamar Odom this season, the Lakers no longer have that offensive versatility and reliable rebounding coming off the bench, and frankly, it shows. Streaky at best, the Lakers need reliability from their reserves, and if this group can’t provide it, the front office may need to consider signing role players like Gilbert Arenas or Rasheed Wallace.
As the shortened season seems to be rapidly passing by, the Lakers need to find their game and need to do so quickly. With their archrivals the Boston Celtics visiting Staples Center tomorrow, the Lakers essentially have another chance to make a statement. While the Lakers should have no problem getting up for this game, with the consistency of being inconsistent, you never know what you’ll get from this team.